Downeast Dog News

Ask Bammy, an Advice Column for Dogs by a Dog

By Nancy Holmes | May 01, 2019

I am a Carolina Dog, a breed that long ago owned Native American people. We were designed by natural selection to be so intelligent and physically superior that we survived without human help. My great-grandfather was caught from the wild. I can offer advice based on the natural instincts and attributes of wild dogs. In addition, my adoptive person and I have had lots of training classes and other experiences. Some humans call themselves Mom or Dad of their dog, but I refer to my human, tongue in cheek, as Boss. Much as I love her, I admit she has many of the same odd notions as most humans, so I can relate to other dogs with problem humans. If I can’t help, at least I can offer sympathy, and we can have some fun talking about our amazing humans. Please send your questions! Bammy, 280 Pond Rd., Newcastle, ME 04553, or email:


About “Talking”

I say “talk” because that’s what Boss says when we let each other know what we’re thinking. It’s confusing because sometimes when she says, “Talk,” she actually wants me to whine. When she says, “Speak,” she wants me to bark. Just to keep it simple, I bark when she says either “talk” or “speak,”but I don’t have to tell you other dogs that it’s confusing! When a human says, “Down,” do they mean don’t jump up on people? Or do they want you to lie down?

People-talk is so slow that Boss and I sometimes get mixed up. When I hear the first word that I understand, I rush off to do or find or whatever she wants. For example, if we are playing with a ball and she says, “Bammy, go get my slippers,” I go get the ball before she’s done talking.

She says, “No – slippers.” I nose the ball she’s holding. She must be absent-minded, calling the ball “slippers.” She hangs onto the ball and says in that laughing voice, “Bammy, sit. Listen.” I sort of sit, but my hind legs are like springs that I can’t push all the way down. “Slippers,” she says. “Go get my slippers.”

“Oh! Slippers!” and I run and get them for her.

Boss says she’s tired of typing all these quotation marks. What are “quotation marks?”

I like “talk” without voices. When we lie on the bed together, I put my paw on her arm, and she uses her paw to stroke me. I give her hand a soft little lick, and she says in a warm voice, (humans just have to talk!) “Ohhh, I love you, too.”

She understands my voice pretty well. If I see my best friend coming to visit us, I make a sort of high yelping bark, and Boss says “Here’s Pookah!” and goes to let her in. I make the same kind of bark when I see Dudley and Newly, who live next door, going for a walk way back by the woods. We have a great time when we meet them going for a walk with their humans. Dudley plays a good, fast game of tag. But Pookah and Newly don’t like to play. Maybe they are too old. Though Boss and I are kind of old, and we like to play.

Boss can tell when I hear coyotes. Sometimes if they howl, I howl back to them, so my bark for coyote is a mix of, “Stay off my territory!” and “Let’s sing!” Boss knows what I mean. She says, “Coyote,” and we go to the door to listen.

She can tell if I just hear or smell something outside or if there’s actually someone coming to our house. And I think she knows that my short, sharp bark means I want something – right now! Like food. But she turns her back to me when I say that.

We understand each other pretty well, but that doesn’t mean we don’t argue sometimes.